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The United States has one of the poorest records of any industrialized nation in helping non-college-bound students enter the workforce, a new report from the Educational Testing Service charges.

While the nation is "generous with those who continue their educations," it "does little to smooth the transition from school to work for high-school graduates," says the report's author, Paul E. Barton.

The report cites data showing that the average student who goes on to a college or university can expect to receive combined public and private subsidies of about $5,000 per academic year. But "no such similar degree of assistance is given to high-school graduates entering the labor market," it notes.

The lack of attention to students who end their education at high school is reflected in the "deterioriating" earning power of high-school graduates, contends the author, who notes that their real earnings dropped by 28 percent from 1973 to 1986, compared with only a 6 percent decline for college graduates. Black male high-school graduates were hardest hit by the drop in earning power, with their real earnings declining by an average of 44 percent over the period.

Noting that the transition to work begins for most students with part-time jobs while they are still in school, the report calls for greater collaboration between schools and students' employers to improve education and employment preparation. It also urges schools to better integrate academic and vocational education and to focus more on critical thinking as well as on the work-ethic skills demanded by employers.

Copies of the report, "From School To Work," are available for $3.50 each from e.t.s. Publications Order Service, P.O. Box 6736, Princeton, N.J. 08541-6736.

A coalition of corporate and academic leaders last week called for the creation of a new federal program to pay for remedial education for secondary-school students in low-income areas.

The Business-Higher Education Forum, a coalition of more than 90 college and university presidents and chief executive officers of Fortune 500 corporations, made its recommendations in a report on the status of minorities. The report notes that a lack of educational attainment continues to prevent many blacks and Hispanics from escaping the underclass.

The coalition also called for full funding of Head Start and Chapter 1 programs, increased funding for programs that train teenagers for employment, and new state and municipal efforts to discourage teenage pregnancy and to keep children in school.

The coalition also said that low-income families should be informed early in their child's schooling of opportunities for financial assistance in college.

Copies of the report can be obtained by calling the Business-Higher Education Forum at (202) 939-9345.

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